June Blocks

On those moments when I feel really behind I try to do all sorts of things to get me prepared for accomplishing the tasks at hand. Yesterday that meant setting up my sewing machine with my extra ten minutes in the morning, pressing a few things during lunch time, and coming home to work on my blocks for the month.

And, I’m happy to report I not only got a little bit more done on my quilt for my bed, but also finished three blocks for the bees I am currently in. And prepped the fourth block, to finish up tonight!

For the solid bee blocks, I had both May and June. I didn’t receive the May fabric until June, so I didn’t feel too bad about not getting to that until today. We were asked to do a block from the Criss Cross Quilt. The block was pretty easy to make and lots of fun. I think I’d like to try making an entire quilt from this block at some point. A great pattern with easy directions and a fun colorway to make it with!

 

 

 

For the June solid bee block, we were asked to do a spider web block. I absolutely love the tutorial for these blocks on Quilt It! They make it so much easier to conceptualize and make it work. We used grays, greens, blues, and a dash of yellow, with a preference for smaller strips than larger ones. I really enjoyed putting this block together, and it reminded me of the extreme amounts of these blocks I need to make to finish my own quilt from January! Yikes! Once I finish these few quilts up, that will be a priority, I’m guessing.

The last block I finished up was for the Sew and Bee Happy Bee. We were asked to make a red and white star block for this and there have been some absolutely amazing blocks which have come forward already thus far. As I was a little late in the game, I wanted to do something wonderful. And while I’m not sure whether this is wonderful, I do really like the way the block turned out. I used the Starflower Quilt Block tutorial over on the Modify Tradition blog, which shows some great blocks. I think it was pretty good overall. I’ll be excited to see how the sampler quilt turns out!

Last up for tonight is Kelly’s block for the Simply Strings bee. I’ll share that once it’s done!

Egg Bake

Saturday afternoon my dad asked me if I happened to have a recipe for egg bake to use up some ham. I shared that I did, and I had been waiting to find a reason to use some more of the herbs he and my mom had planted on their back porch. So, for Father’s Day I made egg bake while my mom was at church. I was shooting from the hip a bit because I didn’t have my recipe box with me. So, this is what I made. I don’t have a picture of it – sorry! But if you’re looking for a quick and easy non-bread-based egg bake that you don’t have to do anything to it the night before, try this egg bake on for size!

Egg Bake

Ingredients:

1 pkg Potatoes O’Brien

½ stick butter/margarine

8 eggs

¾ c milk

2 c Colby jack cheese

2 c ham

¼ – ½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Take package of frozen hashbrowns and spread it on the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Either thinly slice or melt butter/margarine and place/pour over the hashbrowns. Bake for 10 minutes in oven.

While this is baking, beat eggs and milk together, add in salt, pepper. Remove thyme and rosemary from the sprigs and add to the egg mixture. Mix together.

Remove hashbrowns from the oven. Layer ham and cheese over the hashbrowns. Then pour egg mixture over the potatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes, based on how well-done you like your eggs. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

I’ve found this warms nicely in the microwave later in the week.

Macaroni Coleslaw

We planned to have members of the extended family over a couple of weeks ago and were trying to think of what to serve them that would say summer. We were going back and forth and back and forth, when I suggested coleslaw. Following yesterday’s confession, I am going to confess again. I don’t really like coleslaw, but I know it’s part of traditional summer fare. If we’re going to eat coleslaw, I’ll eat it, but I’d rather make a vinaigrette-based coleslaw 9 times out of 10.

Despite my ill-regard for coleslaw, I do enjoy pasta salads. Even mayo or mustard-based coleslaws. A few years back my mom found a combination of coleslaws and pasta salads in Taste of Home magazine. She served it at dinner one night and I was apprehensive, to say the least. But, it was pretty decent and pretty delicious. So, we made it again. My aunt declared it “interesting.” But, in the end, everyone took seconds of it, so it must have been okay.

For easy reference and your delicious tastebuds, here is the Macaroni Coleslaw recipe!

Macaroni Coleslaw

Ingredients

1 pkg (7 oz) ring macaroni

1 pkg coleslaw

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 medium cucumber, finely chopped

1 medium green pepper, finely chopped

Dressing:

1 ½ c Miracle Whip light

1/3 c sugar

¼ c cider vinegar

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Directions:

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to large bowl; add the coleslaw mix, onions, celery, cucumber, green pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Yield: 16 servings

Rhubarb Torte

There is little about early summer I love more than rhubarb. In fact, my sister called a couple weeks ago and had made our family-favorite rhubarb bars. My mom also makes a mean rhubarb freezer jam. I have no doubt I will make planting rhubarb a priority someday when I purchase my own house. For now, however, I beg, borrow, and buy rhubarb whenever I can and know the season is never as long as I want it to be.

Rhubarb has such a unique flavor. It’s tart. It’s tasty. It needs to be sweetened. Perhaps I have an affinity for rhubarb because it looks a little bit like celery (which I know I should eat) and tastes so much better (or maybe just has flavor?!) It’s kind of like eating sweet tarts without all the sweetness!

Last week I made a rhubarb torte. I doubled the recipe so it could go in a 9×13 pan and every step of the way, my mom was reminding me to double what I had used.

Now for a few confessions:

  1. This was my first time making whipped cream on my own. I slightly over-whipped it. It didn’t get close to making butter, but another couple minutes and we would have been there without question.
  2. I didn’t really care, because I don’t like whipped cream. Some people love it. I don’t. I don’t like it on top of pie, cake, hot chocolate, or anything else. I’ve grown up enough to eat it when it’s served to me, but I would rarely intentionally add it myself. Thankfully, this dessert has pudding on top of the whipped cream. In my eyes, this was a redeeming factor.

Remember my desire to cook from church cookbooks? This recipe is almost as good as I found it in my mom’s recipe box, but don’t recall her ever making it before. Yummy!

Rhubarb Torterhubarb torte

Base:

1 c crushed graham cracker

2 Tbsp sugar

4 Tbsp melted butter

Save 2 Tsp mixture for garnish. Pat in 9×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Cool.

Filling:

1 c sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

4 c diced rhubarb

½ c water

1 Tbsp cherry jello (not sugar free to insure correct sugar ratio)

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in rhubarb and water. Cook and stir until thickened. Reduce heat. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add jello and spread on cooled crush. Cool.

Topping:

1 c whipping cream

1 ½ c miniature marshmallows

Whip cream and fold in marshmallows. Spoon on top of rhubarb mixture.

1 pkg instant coconut cream pudding

Prepare pudding according to package directions and spread over whipped cream.

Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.

Quilt for my Bed

 

I’ve been loving my knitting stuff, and it’s been great. However, I’ve also spent the last couple weeks working on a new quilt for my bed. I’ve had the fabric for over a year and I’m happy to say I am finally making progress! This is especially good because after this quilt is finished, I’ll need to make a quilt for the guestroom, although my plan for this is to finish off a quilt-a-long that I had folks make a block for me months ago on. So, for starters, I’m doing the Wild Things pattern by Thimble Blossoms for my own room.

The pattern originally calls for charm packs and is based on a throw size quilt. I didn’t take the time to do the math to figure out what I needed to do in order to double the quilt. And, blocks don’t always turn out the same anyway, so I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Instead, I doubled the amount of squares needed and just started cutting! I haven’t finished sewing blocks together yet, so more to come on that. I’m hoping to finish pressing the blocks so I can finish sewing blocks together tomorrow night!

For now, here’s a sneak peek!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

We have always been a pretty traditional family. We were basically a meat and potatoes family. In fact, I might go so far as to say I didn’t eat much rice until I got to college. And then I eased into it. We would eat pasta on occasion growing up, but even that wasn’t a huge menu item. Last week when I was home, my mom decided to make some orzo. I’ve cooked with orzo on occasion, but I don’t think my dad had ever eaten orzo before. This item quickly became a favorite. It’s on our list to make again anytime we can. I am even surprised we didn’t make it twice while I was home… but who knows, maybe my mom and dad have made it again this week!

As I was discussing (analyzing) it with my sister Brenda, I described it as grown up mac and cheese. It’s not macaroni like, but the parmesan cooks in nicely, so it is reminiscent of past with cheese like mac and cheese. It’s not the same cheese flavor as regular mac and cheese, but a more adult-friendly pasta and cheese. It also reminded me somewhat of a risotto, without all the ongoing work risotto requires!

Overall, I don’t have any “must change” items on it. We did eat it fast, though. So fast I didn’t get a picture! Sorry! Instead, make it, eat it, enjoy it!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter

1 c uncooked orzo

1 can chicken broth

½ c grated Parmesan cheese

¼ c chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Directions

Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and sauté until lightly browned.

Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.

Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowl. Garnish with basil sprigs.

I’m Going to Be an Aunt! (and thus I knit…)

 

As promised, here’s the latest update on what I’ve been working on regarding crafts! Have I mentioned my sister is having a baby? I’m super excited for her and her husband, who celebrated their one year anniversary yesterday! There are a lot of couples in the world, but the two of them complement one another nicely and are no doubt going to be fantastic when parenting begins!

 

Over Easter, they asked me to be the Weebe’s godmother. And I couldn’t be more excited! Not only is this  baby the first in the family to start the next generation, but it also meant I got to pull out some of my knitting skills. My mom does all sorts of quilting as well, so I figured I could take the lead in this section of the preparation skills. She made my sister a beautiful quilt for her nursery, and I’ve been working on some different hats and things for the baby to wear. They haven’t found out whether the baby will be a girl or a boy, but I was also fortunate to quickly learn that several of my friends are also due within the next few months, so babies will abound around me.

Here’s what I’ve done so far. I’ve been using a lot of sock yarn because that’s what the knitting patterns have called for. However, I also must note that everything I’ve tried to do prior to this with sock yarn has been rotten. And I truly mean rotten. The needles are so small and therefore knitting takes a really long time. I don’t have much patience for that. But, with two commencement ceremonies, a trip to a conference, and a couple of plane flights, knitting has been great because it is soooo portable.

I’ve mostly been using Jean Christensen’s Infant Hat & Can’t Kick ‘Em Off Booties. She is a local pattern designer and her patterns are available through the Yarnery, which is one of my favorite yarn shops in St. Paul. I haven’t tried making the booties yet, but they are not my list, along with some mittens so the Weebe doesn’t scratch her/himself.

 

I also made the Cute Noggin Baby Hat, available over on www.ravelry.com If you aren’t currently a member, you’ll need to be to get into the web site, but it’s a great resource for knitters! There are so many patterns, and people share their thoughts and tips about knitting, as well as patterns they’ve

created. Each person does things so differently and seeing patterns in different colorways, yarns, and other items makes it a great resource! Check it out if you are a knitter!

 

I’ve got a few more projects I’ll share in the future, but thanks for checking  out my first round of knitting for the Weebe. Any must-do or must-have knitted baby items on your list?